Senate Republicans oppose advancing border policy bill after criticism


WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing criticism from conservatives, Senate Republicans on Monday resisted moving forward on a bipartisan proposal intended to crack down on illegal border crossings, signaling a likely defeat in Congress that would leave leaders with no There would be no clear path to approving wartime aid. For Ukraine.

In a dramatic change, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell recommended to GOP senators in a closed-door meeting that they vote against the procedural vote earlier Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the meeting who declined to speak publicly about it. were not authorized to speak and spoke anonymously. ,

It came just hours after the Kentucky Republican urged colleagues on the Senate floor that “now is the time for Congress to act.” But McConnell struggled to sway his convention to support the package. 118 billion dollar package Border enforcement policy and funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other US allies.

Senate negotiators on Sunday Knight released the text of the bill, hoping the details would win over skeptics. The carefully negotiated compromise represented a rightward shift in Senate negotiations on border measures, yet the reaction from conservatives was still intense. He called the border policy proposal inadequate and former President Donald Trump led the charge.

“This is a gift to the Democrats. And it’s going to shift the worst border in history onto the shoulders of the Republicans,” presumptive Republican presidential nominee Trump said on “The Dan Bongino Show” on Monday. “They want it for the presidential election so they can now hold the line in history. “Blame Republicans for the worst border issues.”

As they returned to the Capitol on Monday, many Senate Republicans — even those who have expressed support for Ukraine aid and changes to border policy — expressed skepticism that they would support moving the package forward. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to hold an event main test vote Wednesday.

“The actions taking place here over the next few days mark a turning point in history,” the New York Democrat said in a speech. “The security of our country and the world hangs in the balance.”

Schumer worked closely with McConnell on the border security package, as the Republican leader pushed for pairing as a way to win. support for ukraine aid, The Democratic leader urged his colleagues to “shut down the political noise” and vote yes.

“For years our Republican colleagues have demanded that we fix the border. And he always said that it should be done through law. “Recently they changed it when it looked like we could actually legislate,” Schumer said.

But Republicans expressed deep divisions over the bill. Their discussion turned into sloganeering during the 90-minute closed-door meeting on Monday evening.

“time up!” Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a retired lieutenant general in the Iowa Army National Guard, said during a conversation. “Easy!”

GOP senators emerged saying they were unlikely to vote to advance during Wednesday’s test vote and wanted to debate changes to the bill — a demand that would further delay any definitive action on the legislation.

“I think Wednesday’s vote, for most of our members, is going to be very quick,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican leader.

Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker predicted the vote would fall short of the 60 votes needed on Wednesday. “I think the proposal is dead,” he told reporters after leaving a previous meeting with other GOP leaders.

Both McConnell and Schumer have pushed for this for months The urgency to approve tens of billions of dollars For the Ukraine conflict, saying that America’s ability to support democracies around the world was at stake. Yet due to funding gridlock in Congress, the Defense Department has halted shipments of ammunition and missiles to Kiev.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has already The resolution called it “dead on arrival” if it passes the Senate, but Biden urged the Republican speaker to “pay attention to what the Senate is doing.”

Biden, speaking to reporters at a meeting with members of a culinary union in Las Vegas, said Congress had not approved his funding requests for more Border Patrol agents and immigration judges to handle the influx of migrants. “We need help,” he said. “Why won’t they help me?”

The White House has also said Biden would veto a House bill that would only send military aid to Israel, criticizing it as a “cynical political move” that would include funding for Ukraine, the border and other national security needs. Not there.

Johnson said in a joint statement Monday with the rest of the top House GOP leaders opposed the law Because “it fails in every policy area necessary to secure our border and will actually encourage more illegal immigration.”

The statement from Johnson and Representatives Steve Scalise, Tom Emmer and Elise Stefanik pointed to a provision in the bill that would grant work authorization to migrants eligible to enter the asylum system. They also argued that it would support a “catch and release” policy by placing migrants entering the asylum system in a monitoring program while they await a final decision on their asylum claim.

Under the proposal, migrants seeking asylum would face a tougher and faster process to have their claims evaluated. The level of initial interviews will be increased, and many people will receive them within days of arriving at the border. A final decision on their asylum claims would be made within months rather than the years-long wait that often occurs now.

The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents, endorsed the proposal on Monday and said it would stop illegal border crossings nationwide. The group endorsed Trump in 2020 and has been highly critical of Biden’s border policies.

But House Republican leaders said, “Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time.”

Still, the GOP’s chief negotiator on the bill, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, urged his colleagues to reconsider the legislation and even expressed openness to resuming negotiations.

“It’s a work in progress right now,” he told reporters. “So I am not ready to perform the last rites on this – from the House’s side, they have already performed the last rites.”

Several Democrats have also come out in opposition to the bill and raised the issue of restrictions on asylum seekers. Immigration advocates have also said the bill would cut off vital due process rights for people who have fled the US to escape often horrific violence.

But Democrats largely agree with the idea of ​​tougher border measures.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the bill’s lead Democratic negotiator, said, “I think this country is asking the parties to stop fighting over immigration and just do something that will lead to better border control and our broken immigration system. can be corrected.” ,


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in Las Vegas and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed.


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